Rink to Rink: Detroit wins battle for 8th place

Thankfully, the hockey (and not a debate about hits) was center stage Monday night. As the league tries to add a face-saving rule or two, I think we can all agree that it would be pleasant if this issue “worked itself out” – at least for a few merciful days. We could use more nights when the question is: “which team will position itself in the Western Conference’s eight spot?” instead of “should he get suspended for that hit and if so, how long?”

Let’s take a look at last night’s action.

Red Wings 2, Flames 1

Tomas Holmstrom might as well be called the eclipse (or, if nothing else, we could find some way to shorten a nickname like “man with huge head who sits in front of you in a movie theater”). The Swede gets under the skin of goalies with far more skill than a crease crasher such as Corey Perry and he did what he does better than anyone else in the NHL on Monday. His screen of Kipper allowed him to score his 20th goal of the season right around the last minute of last night’s game in Calgary, putting Detroit in the driver’s seat for the final spot in the West.

Devils 3, Bruins 2

The Devils are nearly as hot as their biblical home right now, so I guess it makes sense that they’re on a three game roll in their actual home. They only really needed to play the first period – in which they took a 3-0 lead highlighted by Martin Brodeur’s amazing assist – to beat a punch-less Boston Bruins team. The win brings New Jersey two points within the Atlantic division lead held by Pittsburgh, whom they’ve dominated all season long and host on Wednesday.

Blue Jackets 5, Oilers 3

Kristian Huselius (1 goal, 3 assists), Antoine Vermette (1 goal, 2 assists) and Steve Mason (29 saves) propelled the Blue Jackets past a woeful Oilers team. I wouldn’t puff my chest out too much if I were Columbus; the Oilers are a horrific 1-14-1 on the road since the middle of December.

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    Report: Patrick Eaves is driving serious trade interest for Stars

    NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 17: Patrick Eaves #18 of the Dallas Stars skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 17, 2017 in New York City. The Stars defeated the Rangers 7-6.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    NHL teams are especially interested in trade talks with the Dallas Stars regarding Patrick Eaves, and it’s not because of his stellar beard-per-capita.

    Nope, it’s instead that he provides such excellent bang for the buck. You won’t find many players who already have 20+ goals and are making just $1 million, particularly outside of the artificial ceiling created by entry-level contracts.

    Eaves, 32, is enjoying arguably the year of his career, but it’s that bargain price that makes him the Stars’ best bargaining chip (and maybe one of the best in all of the league), according to Pierre LeBrun during the latest round of TSN’s Insider Trading.

    Interesting, Eaves could conceivably present a now vs. later debate for those in the bidding.

    While his cap-friendly contract makes him easy to drop in just about any contender situation, his affordability may prompt the Stars to ask for richer future assets.

    Of course, with an expiring contract, the Stars would still need to walk that tightrope between getting something for Eaves and letting him leave for nothing (assuming they wouldn’t re-sign him).

    That’s a delicate balancing act for any GM, and Jim Nill has mainly been accustomed to buying in Dallas so far.

    Want some more trade talk? Check out that full Insider Trading segment and also Sportsnet batting around ideas below.

    WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild

    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 15: Zach Parise #11 of the Minnesota Wild tries to get off a shot against Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on January 15, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Wild defeated the Blackhawks 3-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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    The Minnesota Wild haven’t lost often, particularly in the past month, but they did fall to the Chicago Blackhawks in their last meeting.

    That was a spirited affair that ended with a 4-3 overtime win for Chicago, a setback that began what’s been a mostly successful run of home games for the Wild.

    The Blackhawks aim for a similar result – ideally this time in regulation – to make up ground against the Wild in the Central Division.

    At the moment, the Wild have more points (84 to 77) a game in hand, more wins (39 to 36) and more ROW (36 to 34). Catching the Wild even with a win tonight wouldn’t be easy for Chicago; a regulation loss would make the odds extremely slim.

    If their last game was any indication, this should be a fun one on NBCSN. You can also watch online or via the NBC Sports App.

    Click here for the livestream.

    Rough night for Carey Price so far

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    A large portion of the hockey-loving population in Montreal let out a big sigh on Tuesday night. Especially worrisome types may still be holding their breath about Carey Price, however.

    Many gasped after hearing that Price left pre-game warm-ups early after taking a Paul Byron shot up high.

    Video even surfaced of the moment, with Price looking very uncomfortable following the shot. (Byron might have felt uncomfortable too.)

    Yikes.

    It doesn’t sound like Price is going to miss time because of that incident. Of course, in many cases upon further reflection/once the adrenaline of competition wears off, he might think differently. So we’ll see.

    As you can see from the video above this post’s headline, the theme of Habs nearly hurting Price continued during the game, too. Sheesh.

    Trade deadline auditions? Quincey, Pateryn in action tonight

    GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 09:  Greg Pateryn #8 of the Montreal Canadiens in action during the first period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on February 9, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    NHL executives, scouts and fans aren’t just watching their teams or the teams they’re jockeying with for playoff position tonight. They’re also likely taking a gander at potential trade deadline targets.

    At least two possible defensemen on the move are getting into lineups on Tuesday: Kyle Quincey with the New Jersey Devils (vs. the Senators) and Greg Pateryn for the Montreal Canadiens (against the Rangers).

    Will there be a dogged pursuit for Quincey?

    Quincey told the Bergen Record that the situation even has his dog on edge (gasp).

    “It’s not just me that’s on eggshells,” Quincey said. “It’s the wife and the kids and the dog. You’ve got to uproot your life. But I’m definitely not thinking about it. The only focus is getting some wins because we’re definitely not out of it.”

    (Sadly, some cursory searches did not provide insight as to the breed or name of Quincey’s dog. We’ll assume it’s first name is John.)

    Quincey’s getting his first bit of action since logging a little more than 23 minutes in a game on Feb. 4. He’s played in 51 games this season, generating 12 points and mediocre (but arguably adequate) possession numbers. At 31, a contender could conceivably target him if the price is low.

    Pateryn being shopped

    TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports that the Habs are indeed looking to move Pateryn, who returns to the lineup for the first time since Feb. 11 (replacing Nikita Nesterov, no stranger to changing locales).

    Pateryn is far less experienced than Quincey, but also has fresher legs at 26.

    He has six points in 22 games this season and some solid possession numbers.

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    Now, neither of these blueliners are expected to make a big splash. Still, the price to even “rent” the likes of Kevin Shattenkirk could be huge, so teams might consider going after bargains like these two defensemen.

    Games like tonight’s contests could very well make or break decisions for some teams, for all we know.